Questions. I have so, so many questions.
I don’t know if this will end up being a review or a loosely organized series of interrogatives. You have been warned.
Season 8 has a glaring problem, other than the absence of Mulder, a startling trend that I’ve noticed. Instead of propelling the story forward with new developments, it goes back to plots that the audience thought they understood and turns them inside out by reinventing the past. This is a shortcut to drama since 1013 already knows that we’re emotionally invested in Mulder and Scully and the things that they’ve been through. But it’s potentially dangerous because this method of manufacturing interest by pulling the rug out from under your audience creates instability. They’ve already done it once with the “Mulder was dying” plot. Now they’re doing it again with Scully’s baby.
“Per Manum” exists mainly to rock any assumptions we might have naturally made about the paternity of Scully’s baby. When we first found out about the baby in the Season 7 finale “Requiem” (7×22), it had already been confirmed in “all things” (7×17) that Mulder and Scully were sleeping together and based on that knowledge and Scully’s choice of words and facial expressions when she announces her pregnancy to Skinner, it was safe to assume that Scully at least believed she had conceived this baby with Mulder the old fashioned way. She was supposed to have been barren so it was a shock, but it was a happy shock, a miracle.
Then comes Season 8 when 1013 tries to convince us that nothing was ever as it seemed. Mulder and Scully weren’t as blissfully happy as they looked in Season 7. Mulder was dying almost that whole time.
Yes, I got that memo.
Now, they’re telling us that not only is the paternity of Scully’s baby up in the air, the circumstances leading up to the conception cast doubt not only on the timeline of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, but even on if it was what we thought it was.
It all starts off with Scully remembering a conversation with Mulder on an elevator. This is the first we’ve seen Mulder and Scully together since “Requiem” and what should be one of my happiest fangirl moments ever is… awkward. It’s actually awkward. I mean David Duchovny looks physically uncomfortable taking part in this ridiculous conversation in which best friends and possible lovers discuss fertility failures and an ova rescue.
Scully admits to Mulder that she’s a little upset over hearing the news that she’s definitely barren. Mulder then admits to Scully that he funky poached her ova back in “Memento Mori” (4×15) and has been hiding them and the secret that they’re no good from Scully.
Scratch the record.
I’m sorry, but didn’t Mulder already confess that to Scully in front of a judge in “Emily” (5×7)?
Right. Moving on.
So Scully gets a second opinion and visits Dr. Parenti. How did that wind up happening? How did she just happen to end up with a doctor who specializes in implanting alien fetuses in women who are alien abductees? I say alien fetuses, but I’m supposed to be assuming that these are a part of the alien-human hybrid experiments, yes? Those experiments are continuing even though the Syndicate is dead, plans for colonization are continuing and the aliens have been criss crossing the country to destroy all evidence of the hybridization project as of “Within” (8×1)? Who is continuing these experiments and why? And how did they manipulate Scully into visiting Dr. Parenti originally?
Regardless of what I don’t know, Scully is told that she might have a shot, she just needs to find a semen donor. Naturally, she asks Mulder, a moment which wisely takes place off screen. Mulder gives it some thought before agreeing and they have an incredibly lovely interaction that makes up for their previous scene together and that leaves me totally confused.
This must take place in Season 7. I know it can’t be so far out as Season 6 because the treatments have to be recent enough before Scully’s pregnancy in order for them to be a viable option for how she got pregnant. That means it would make the most sense for this conversation to take place late in Season 7. Late in Season 7 we know that Mulder and Scully were romantically involved.
Yet the vibe here between Mulder and Scully, while as close as ever, is not one of lovers. Their relationship is left ambiguous – on purpose, I’m sure. But if Mulder and Scully were already in an exclusive romantic relationship, would she ask him to help her have a baby or would she in effect be asking him to start a family? Would Mulder’s response be that he’s flattered, or rather would it be strange for her to want to have anyone else’s baby when she’s in a relationship with him? Would Mulder be worried whether her carrying his baby would come between them, or would he be worried about whether he’d even get to see the baby seeing as how he’s dying and he probably won’t live long enough for it to come between them?
Maybe they were lovers before this conversation, maybe after. Who knows? 1013 is purposefully playing coy with the cannon. It’s like, oh, I dunno, they want us to keep watching to the end of the season to receive confirmation that Mulder and Scully are an item and that this is their baby. Funny. I thought we’d been there done that in Season 7. Whatever. I have more questions.
If Scully had been receiving IVF treatments, and receiving them recently enough that she believed this pregnancy could possibly be a result of them, why would she look so shocked at the end of “Requiem” (7×22)? Gillian Anderson didn’t play that scene like a woman who had been trying to get pregnant and found out that despite what the doctors had told her she was successful. She played it like a woman who thought pregnant was the last thing in the world she would ever be.
I just… I can’t. My head hurts.
After all my questions, only one really matters: Scully became pregnant per manum, by hand, but was it by the hand of man or the hand of God?
Hello, mythology! Where did you go? Are we going to continue to explore this theme? Is this the next stage? Are they going to take this elaborate conspiracy anywhere, or does this plot merely serve as a means to make us worry about Scully’s pregnancy and question the paternity of her baby? Why do I suspect it’s the latter?
Well, I’m not giving up on my miracle. Whatever ridiculata may surround them, Mulder and Scully are gold. Pure gold. That thing that they have that resists definition, it’s a gift from God to television watchers everywhere. There was that hiccup on the elevator, sure, but the rest of their scenes together only reminded me how much I miss their connection. I also desperately miss Mulder and the humor and humanity he brought to the show. I may or may not have sobbed his name several times during the watching of “Per Manum”.
If there’s any bright side to the unnecessary drama it’s Gillian Anderson’s performance. In the opening shot after the teaser, she shows us a beautiful mixture of wonder and joy and sadness as Scully contemplates the life growing inside her and the absence of its presumed father. Then there’s a brilliant shot of Scully over the shoulder of Mr. Haskell as he recounts his wife’s story. You see Scully’s face shift from skepticism to recognition as the camera pans across Mr. Haskell from behind. That was a bit of brilliance. Thank you, Kim Manners.
And that’s it. I’ve worn myself out. All I have left to say is that mind games are fine in their place, but when you change the past to fit the present, chaos ensues.
Even More Questions:
Scully was afraid the F.B.I. would force her to stop looking for Mulder if they found out she was pregnant. Well, they’re going to find out soon no matter what, so it’s high time she got a move on before she starts showing and she’s physically unable to look for Mulder. There’s been a time crunch this whole time that Season 8 has ignored.
Scully’s only fourteen weeks along? Huh? Scully found out she was pregnant in May. We know this episode is after the date on the pre-recorded ultrasound tape. That means it takes place in late November at the earliest. Baby timeline…. I give up.
How did Miss Hendershot know about Scully and where she lived?
Why did Skinner and Scully call Doggett out in the middle of the night just to tell him that Scully was taking leave? If you weren’t going to tell him anything, you could’ve not told him at the office.That said, by telling him earlier that Dr. Parenti was her doctor, wasn’t Scully admitting to being pregnant anyway? Why get shy now?
The conspirators appear to have wanted access to Scully all along which is why they sent Haskell and were willing to give up Miss Hendershot and her baby to get at Scully. But didn’t they already have access to Scully through Dr. Parenti? Why warn Scully that something might be wrong with her baby at all? She would be completely pliable if she remained ignorant.
Anne!! It’s Anne! Megan Follows from Anne of Green Gables plays the doomed Mrs. Haskell in the opening teaser. That series of books was my first true love. Ah, I love it when obsessions collide.
We as the audience know this wasn’t all in Scully’s head. We saw the alien babies. We heard Haskell’s phone call and we know the doctors or somebody is after Scully’s baby. That would only be the case if they believed her baby to be alien.
That Duffy Haskell twist was a good one.
The actor who plays Duffy Haskell was also in “Demons” (4×23). It’s good to see an actor from the Vancouver era again.
This marks the first appearance of Knowle Rohrer.
It’s good to realize that Scully is vulnerable in her condition. You feel for her and are scared with her.
Did you spot Mark Snow?
Doggett: Your assistant said you were going to get right back to me about this David Haskell fingerprint.
Knowle Rohrer: I’ve got a day job, John. The government gets suspicious if I work at too fast a pace.